May 8, 2002
Opening Tip: The University of Arizona men's basketball team gets a head start on the 2002-03 season with a 23-day tour of Australia ... There will be plenty of playing time for everyone with 10 games on the schedule and 10 players making the trip ... Some pundits are already calling Arizona the best college team in the country heading into the 2002-03 campaign ... This is Arizona fifth international excursion and the program's third consecutive trip to the Australian continent ... These trips have proven to be a springboard for success, as the Wildcats have amassed a 107-27 (.799) cumulative record in seasons immediately following foreign tours.
2001-02 In Review: A young Arizona (24-10, 12-6 Pac-10) team exceeded nearly everyone's expectations by winning 24 games, capturing the Pac-10 Tournament title, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament's "Sweet 16" ... Several streaks of note that were continued by the 2001-02 Cats include 20 or more wins for the 15th straight season, 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and four consecutive Pac-10 Tournament championships ... Collectively, the Cats tallied 2,793 total points, the seventh-highest figure in school history, and knocked down 258 treys, No. 3 in the UA annals.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . finished his 19th season at Arizona and his 29th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 663-235 (.738) and 471-143 (.767) at Arizona ... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (262) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75), Oregon State's Slats Gill (276, 1929-64) and Washington's Hec Edmundson (266, 1921-47) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74) ... During his 19-year tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1997), played in the national championship game (2001), participated in four Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997, 2001), won nine Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 18 years in a row, which is the longest active and second-longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 27)... He also led Iowa to the 1980 Final Four ... Olson has been named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year six times (1986, '88, '89, '93, '94, '98), the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & '81) and directed the UA program to the nation's best winning percentage over the past 15 years (401-97/.805) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 35 NBA Draft picks, including 25 at Arizona - 19 alone since 1990 ... A Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame finalist in each of the last three years, Olson has led UA to 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 280-29 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 208 of its last 222 home games ... He also won gold medals in international competition as the U.S. head coach for 1984 Jones Cup and 1986 World Championship teams ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner.
Arizona Abroad: As mentioned earlier, this is Arizona's fifth foreign tour. All-time, the Wildcats have a 28-15 (.651) record in those games. It is also UA's third trip to Australia, where the squad has a 14-5 (.737) record.
A Long, Long Way from Home: As the team sets out on this 23-day road swing, it does so getting ready to cover nearly 19,000 miles. In case your were wondering, Tucson is roughly 7,800 miles from Sydney, which makes Arizona's epic 9,200-mile road trip from Tucson to Maui, Hawaii, to Indianapolis, Ind., that opened the 2000-01 season pale by comparison.
Third Time a Charm?: For the third consecutive year, Arizona head coach Lute Olson is a finalist for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Once again Olson, who has won nearly 1,000 games in 43 seasons as a head coach, faces some formidable competition with a list of finalists headed by former Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson. The Hall of Fame's Class of 2002 will be announced in Los Angeles on Wed., June 5. That's three days after the team returns home from Australia.
Hall of Fame Staff: Even if Coach Olson isn't fortunate enough to receive induction this year, he can rest easy knowing that he has a Hall of Famer on his staff. Associate head coach Jim Rosborough, who has been a member of the Arizona coaching staff for 14 years, was inducted into the state of Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 27. Unfortunately, Rosborough will not accompany the team to Australia.
Developing Talent: Not only has Coach Olson done a fine job of developing talented players over the years, but future head coaches as well. Two of Olson's former assistants were named head coaches on the NCAA Division I level since the end of the 2001-02 season: Jay John at Oregon State and Phil Johnson at San Jose State.
Coach of the Year: UA head coach Lute Olson was also recognized by cnnsi.com, as it selected the Wildcat mentor as its 2002 national coach of the year. It is the second consecutive season in which Olson has been nationally recognized. Last year, Olson was named the Clair Bee Coach of the Year and was also honored with the John R. Wooden "Legends of Coaching" award.
All-America Honors: Jason Gardner and Luke Walton were named to a total of eight All-America teams following the 2001-02 campaign, marking the sixth straight year in which the Cats have had at least one All-American. Gardner earned third team honors from the Associated Press and National Association of Basketball Coaches and second team accolades from cnnsi.com and Basketball America, while Walton garnered kudos from the John R. Wooden Award, Basketball Times (3rd), The Sporting News (2nd) and Basketball News (2nd).
Back For More: After flirting with the National Basketball Association in each of the last two seasons, senior-to-be Jason Gardner will be returning to Arizona for his final collegiate season. Life in Tucson must be good for the All-America point guard, whose mother moved with him to town three years ago. She also attends nearly every one of his games. Gardner hopes to be a top-five pick in next season's NBA Draft.
Second Generation: Adjusting to the rigors of college basketball and playing for a legendary coach might prove to be difficult, but no one may have been more prepared than junior forward Rick Anderson. He is the first second generation Lute Olson-coached player, as Olson also mentored Rick's father, Gary, at Long Beach City College back in the early 1970s.
Like Father...: There aren't many players that can claim Luke Walton's basketball lineage. The third son of former UCLA and NBA great Bill Walton has certainly come into his own as a basketball player, as he averaged 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists last season. All four of the elder Walton's sons either played, or are currently playing major college basketball. Bill and Luke are one of only three father-son combinations to participate in an NCAA Final Four.
On target: Freshman Salim Stoudamire certainly made an impact with his outside shooting. On the season, the Portland, Ore., native shot 44.3 percent from the field, including 45.3 percent from three-point range. Stoudamire, the cousin of NBA star Damon Stoudamire, is so accurate, he ranks second on the school's career three-point FG percentage chart behind Steve Kerr (.573). His 434 points scored in 2001-02 ranked sixth on the UA freshman scoring list, and was exactly double of what Damon tallied as a freshman at Arizona. Stoudamire comes from a long line of basketball talent, as his father, brother and uncle were all standouts in college as well.
In Front of the Camera: Most players would jump at the chance to have every one of his games televised. For UA freshman Will Bynum just having his games televised was a decrease in TV coverage. As a high school senior in Chicago, the flashy point guard was the subject of a reality-based weekly television program called "Preps" that filmed every part of his life for one school year.
Behind the Camera: Sophomore guard Jason Ranne got the chance to play filmmaker during Arizona's run to the 2001 national championship game. The native of Tulsa, Okla., gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at the Wildcats' journey to Minneapolis, Minn., as part of a feature during CBS-TV's coverage of the NCAA Tournament. No doubt that it was entertaining, as Ranne possesses a very wry sense of humor.
Destiny: Perhaps freshman forward Isaiah Fox was destined to become a member of the Arizona basketball team. It just so happens that Isaiah was born in Tucson on March 23, 1983, the same day that Lute Olson was named the UA head coach. Isaiah's father was a member of the UA football team at the time, so it's no surprise that Isaiah has grown up to be 6-foot-9 and weigh 265 pounds.
Making an Impact: First-year center Channing Frye made quite an impact on the Pac-10 as well, finishing the season as the league's field goal percentage leader. Frye connected on 59.5 percent of his attempts (122-of-205), and improved to 60.5 percent in conference play. Frye's 59.5 FG percentage would have ranked seventh nationally had he met the minimum of five made field goals per game. At one point of the season, Frye connected on 17 consecutive field goal attempts. One of the team's most outgoing players, must have learned well from his mother, a former television newscaster.
Body Art: Tattoos have almost become as much a part of a player's repertoire as a signature move to the basket. Seven of the 10 Arizona players claim some form of body art, led by forward Dennis Latimore. At 6-foot-8 and 254 pounds, Latimore certainly has the space for his team-leading seven tattoos.
The Comforts of Home: Perhaps no Arizona player on this Australian trip will feel as much at home as forward Andrew Zahn. The gregarious Southern California native should acclimate well to Australia's world-famous beaches and laid-back lifestyle. And if you like big things, they don't get much bigger than Zahn's 6-foot-9, 254-pound frame.
A Top-10 Guy: Jason Gardner closed his junior season as the school's career leader in minutes per game (35.6), but the Indianapolis, Ind., native also ranks among the UA career leaders in nine other categories. He ranks 10th in points scored (1,512), second in three-point field goals (252) and three-point field goal attempts (676), fourth in games started (103) and minutes played (3707), fifth in free throws (402), sixth in assists (464), seventh in steals (164), and ninth in free throw attempts (516).
Unprecedented: Luke Walton closed his 2001-02 season as the Pacific-10 Conference leader in assists at 6.3 per game. He is the first forward to lead the Pac-10 in assists since the league began tracking the statistic in 1974-75. Walton also ranked 18th nationally in assists and no frontcourt player is ranked higher than the San Diego native. Walton, who has gained a reputation as "the most complete forward in college basketball," according to Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, was the only Pac-10 player to be ranked among the league's top 15 in scoring and the top 10 in rebounds, assists and steals.
Dream Come True: When the Wildcats last toured Australia in 1997, Josh Pastner was a reserve guard with a dream of someday becoming a basketball coach. Now five years and a lot of hard work later, Pastner returns to Australia as one of Arizona's full-time assistant coaches. Hopefully, he'll remember where the workout facilities are located.
Also on the Itinerary: In addition to the 10-game schedule listed at left, the members of the Arizona traveling party are scheduled to enjoy several sojourns when not on the court. The team will attend an Australian Rules Football game in Melbourne on Sun., May 19, go white water rafting in Cairns on Wed., May 29, and take part in a Great Barrier Reef boat trip on Thurs., May 30.